HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — When I saw my husband limping down into the stadium, I knew he was in trouble.
He doesn’t walk unless he absolutely has to during a race. And he wouldn’t do it unless something was really wrong when he’s 200 yards from the finish line.
Originally, the Marshall Marathon was suppose to be my race — my debut in the marathon.
I chickened out. After going about two months into training, the price went up. I had stuff to do that required me compromise my training. I panicked.
I regretted that decision until this past week, as my family prepared for the trek to Huntington.
Huntington is the second largest city in West Virginia and home to Marshall University. The marathon, in it’s 10th year, hopes to be the biggest marathon in a small city.
My husband and I attended the expo and listened to speeches about stretching and hydration.
The fun came when Bart Yasso, chief running officer at “Runner’s World,” spoke. He told people of his adventures in running and kept it PG.
Afterwards, I had the chance to interview him and he gave me a much needed kick in the pants to kick my training up a notch. Even my oldest daughter liked him enough to ask that we have a picture take of them together.
The race itself was epic. Yasso started the race. You were never in the same place twice, unless you did the marathon, which is two laps.
Huntington was a beautiful, semi-flat town. The course was a mix of asphalt, small gavel and bricks. It went through parks, nice neighborhoods, and downtown.
The race concluded with a path through Marshall University. You passed the Memorial Fountain, which honored the Marshall supporters, football staff and players who died on Nov. 14, 1970, in a plane crash.
You ran downhill into the football stadium. Ran up the field, got a football if you wished and ran to the finish on the other side.
Then you picked up a finisher’s medal, which was available for 5k, half and full marathon participants.
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Waiting through a half-marathon with three young kids is hard. I spent the first hour taking the kids through Huntington. We looked at the art on the stadium, which honors the 1970 plane crash (in the picture below) victims. The race was curvy enough that we were able to walk to several points and cheer on dad as he passed.
We went to McDonald’s to eat, to kill more time and feed our bellies, which were empty since we woke up at 4:30 a.m.
Then the waiting began. McDonald’s was right behind the stadium, so we walked to the stadium and found a nice place camp out.
Then we played the waiting game. Basically, it consisted of us all running to an end zone and back until we got tired. We tested Astoturf to see how it felt to roll around on compared to grass. The Astroturf was cushioned but didn’t have the grass smell I like.
Then we waited near the finish line for dad. He didn’t come when he planned to. So I had to play “don’t leave this area or you’ll be sorry.” It’s a bad game, I don’t recommend it.
In between the two games is when I saw my husband limps down the hill.
“Daddy’s in trouble, let’s go help him,” I said while holding three pints of milk, two winter coats in one hand and my youngest son’s hand in the other.
We went to the finish line. When I saw he wasn’t there, we went further up the course.
After seeing a woman cheer/offer help, the kids and I ran over and helped him move closer to the finish line.
At least until the youngest son jetted off and ran to the medal carriers to try to claim “his” medal. Dad was on his own then.
We went to the first aid tent, where my husband learned that switching shoe brands wasn’t a good thing. His arch was falling.
So he got some medication, and we hobbled out of the medical tent and started to make our way to the car.
That’s when we ran into Yasso again. We all talked about the injury and he wished us well. It was cool that he remembered us from the night before.
Several runners and their supporters offered to help us on the way to the car. We eventually took up an offer from a runner wearing a blue fleece pullover and black running tights.
The kids and I went to the car and drove it to the stadium to pick up my injured spouse.
In the car, he mentioned that several people offered him help throughout the last two miles of the race, when he had to walk.
To all of those people, I thank you.
Your kindness, and the entire experience make the trip a race to remember. I hope to run it next year.
Overall, except for the kids deciding to wander off occasionally, it was a good race. I liked that the finish was in a place where the kids could safety wait/ go crazy without getting hurt. The steps the race organizers took to make it memorable just make me more excited for next year.